Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Laurie Smith


With an estimated 1.8 million children born in the US with a developmental disability in the past decade and a 43% increase in the Latino population in the same time period, there are more Latino parents who have children born with a developmental disability than ever before. Due to factors such as language barriers and legal status, Latino parents of children with developmental disabilities tend to experience higher needs. This study explored the challenges and needs Latino parents faced when caring for a child with special needs. The design of the study was qualitative. Participants were a convenience sample of nine Latino women who had a child or children with a developmental disability. Results of the study suggested that there was a large need for more parental education regarding developmental disabilities, support groups, and a larger variety of services and programs available to both parents and children. Increased length and frequency of services were also identified as needs. The most common barriers to the accessibility of programs and services for Latino parents were language barriers and legal status. Other findings discussed focus on the programs and services that parents have found beneficial as well as the role social workers play in the accessibility and attainability of programs, services and resources.